'Rock The Vote' in Downtown Springfield

It is quite rare to have events in Western Mass. that cater to young voters. But on Thursday night, several hundred of those voters came to the Basketball Hall of Fame to encourage one another to ‘Rock The Vote.’

“I truly believe the young vote will be the determining factor in how the next election pans out,” said Trevis Wray, a board member with the Young Professionals of Greater Springfield. The group, 900 members strong hosted a local version of the nationwide ‘Rock The Vote’ campaign.

The group of young voters and local leaders gathered at Samuel’s Sports Bar Thursday evening. As the election approaches, the youth are pushing their peers to act.

“Each one teaches one. So, if somebody comes in who is undecided, they see the frenzy that we’re creating. That will compel them to come out and vote,” said Gilbe Lewis, a young voter from Springfield.

“It’s very important for the under 40 demographic to become engaged and feel like they’re participating in the revitalization of our region, which really expands all the way from Hartford up to Vermont,” said Michelle Sade, President of Young Professionals.

Historically, voter turnout for young adults 18-25 is much lower than their elders, but this time many say the result will be different.

“I think we’re really going to see something dramatic at the polls this year. This is a historic election, and I think we’re really going to see the younger demographic getting out there and casting their vote this November as opposed to just talking about it,” said Alyssa Carvalho, Vice President of Young Professionals.

More than 250 members with the Young Professionals of Greater Springfield came out to register to vote, and meet with local representatives and mayors – who also understand the importance of the youth movement.

“The younger people are moving into the jobs where they are supporting the senior citizens as well as our children,” said Agawam Mayor Susan Dawson. “It is imperative that they begin to step up to vote, because if they don’t vote and make a difference, we’re never going to have a future of our nation.”

The new, young voters said events that engage their fellow teens and young adults will have an incredible influence on the 2008 election.

“We matter, and that is what tonight is saying,” Lewis said.

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 4.

Excerpt from CBS3Springfield.com: Click here